Divorced from your ex, but married to your children

Jul 27, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. ET

These days, there are more and more children with divorced parents than ever before. The result is less of a stigma attached to being the offspring of a divorced couple and a new kind of family unit.

While children today are coping with divorce better than their counterparts of an earlier era, their parents handle the separation differently, and that difference can affect the children profoundly.

In my new book The Divorce Ritual: Get Up, Get Out and Get On With Your Life, I have a whole chapter dedicated to parenting after a divorce called 'We’re Still Family.' And that's the truth…you are still family. Divorce is the end of being husband and wife, but it's not the end of your roles as mother and father. Sure a divorce can bring up a lot of emotions for everyone involved, but coming together in a healthy way can make a better future for all. Below are some of the healing and empowering divorce rituals from my book to help ease the transition for you and your children.

Divorce Ritual #67: The Contract

This is one of my favorite rituals in my book. After a divorce, a happy medium between your home and your ex’s home can be difficult to achieve. At your home, eating your greens means veggies. At your husband’s house, it may mean green M&M’s. So it’s important that you both get on the same page. The best way to do so is a contract. Get together with your ex and make an agreement regarding aspects of child rearing — the same way you handled all aspects of your divorce. This will create structure for you and your ex moving forward and keep you both on the same page.

Divorce Ritual #68: Make Room

A child’s room is their own special place in the house that they can call their own. You probably redecorated your bedroom after the divorce, so let your children do the same. Fixing up their room will help them have a fresh start. Stars and clouds on the ceiling, different photos on the walls, new sheets on the bed — allow them to change their world a bit, and offer them a hand if they would like your help.

Divorce Ritual #70: Christmas in August

"Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the swimming pool is so delightful." Kids love Christmas, so why not have it twice a year? Make it a yearly tradition to also have Christmas in August. It will be a fun time and will mark the new traditions you are making together as a family.

Divorce Ritual #71: If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say

It’s important to not talk badly about your ex to your children. Even though your divorced from your children’s father, they are not. It’s important that you both are on the same page about keeping any negative thoughts you may have about each other to yourselves. Communicate with your ex, and make sure you’re on the same page because it’s about what’s best for the kids from this point forward.

Divorce Ritual #73: The Meal Deal

When you were married, dinnertime was an important part of the evening for your family. Now that there’s an empty seat at the dinner table, how do you fill the gap? Fill it with a new family closeness and a new set of traditions. A great one is to let your children make dinner once a week. Help them pick the menu and go to the store to get the food. Supervise them and help prepare it. You can also teach them how to be on a budget by cutting coupons and looking for sales in the supermarket. This is fun and a learning experience for your child.

To read more of Lois Tarter’s divorce rituals, pick up her new book The Divorce Ritual.

More about kids and divorce

Your divorce: Coming clean to your teen
Helping kids understand divorce
How to talk to your kids about divorce